Sequentia

Ensemble for Medieval Music. Benjamin Bagby, Director

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Sequentia celebrates its 40th anniversary in March 2017
 
 

Contact

E-mail: info@sequentia.org

Representation
(Europe)

Katja Zimmermann
VCzimmermann@gmx.net

Representation
(exclusive of Europe)

Seth Cooper
Seth Cooper Arts Inc.
4592 Hampton Ave.
Montréal, QC, Canada
www.sethcooperarts.com
sethcooper.arts@gmail.com
Tel: 514-467-5052

In association for
Season 2016-2017 with:

Jon Aaron
Aaron Concert Artists 
220 West 148th St. 4J
New York City 10039, NY / USA
Tel: 212-665-0313
jon@aaronconcert.com

 

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Programs

Voices from the Island Sanctuary:
Ecclesiastical Singers in Paris (1180-1230)

New Year’s Day

In the days following Christmas, a number of feasts were celebrated at Notre Dame during which various lower groups in the cathedral hierarchy (priests, deacons, subdeacons, and even the choirboys) had their own day to assume full power in the church and control the entire operation of the liturgy. This ancient tradition, which was probably linked to pagan winter-solstice practices, was a harmless and benevolent moment of lightness in the liturgical year; but by the late 12th century the Parisian celebrations began to get out of control, with incidents of blasphemy in the church, clerics dressing as women, fighting, and indecent displays of youthful (male) energy. The Feast of the Circumcision, on New Year’s Day – which came to be known as the Festum Fatuorum (Feast of Fools) – belonged to the subdeacons, a group of underpaid, overworked young men (mostly former choirboys who were now the principal daily vocal soloists in the choir) who were particularly notorious for their naughty songs and scandalous pranks in the church (many involving the cantor’s “rod” – baculus – a symbol of authority in the choir). When a Papal legate complained about their behaviour in 1198, the Bishop of Paris finally had to issue an official reprimand, and these raucous festivities were severely curtailed, at least temporarily. In their place a number of new musical compositions were provided for the boys and young men to sing, as an attempt to channel their youthful energy into serious rehearsals and the propriety of carefully-managed celebrations, instead of the spontaneous revels which formerly marked this feast.

Texts

Annus renascitur

The year is reborn! Let us be joyful now! The old is cast out, and the new Adam is born. Let us rejoice at the year renewed! The baculus is passed around… a new sun rises … the clouds depart! Let us be joyful now!

Novus annus hodie

Today a new year urges us to begin joyful praises… therefore, let us celebrate this annual feast, loosing the chains of sin, giving drink to the thirsty, healing the sick with this medicine, as joyfully we sing as a memorial:

[refrain]: Ha! Ha! He! He who truly wishes to sing should make praise with three gifts: with his mouth, heart and good works he should labour, so that he might live and please God!

He is worthy of memory whose end is joyful, worthy of great praise whose kindness is without end, who created the heavens, the earth and the sea. Thus he ruled the world with his Word, and was concerned to enrich man, to command his subjects, and according to his will give him immortality.

[refrain]: Ha! Ha! He!...

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Upcoming Concerts

25 August 2017
Basel (CH), Festtage Alte Musik
Endzeitfragmente

05 October 2017
Paris (FR), Musée de Cluny
Monks Singing Pagans

09 to 13 October 2017
Venice (IT), Fondazione Cini
Seminar Roman de Fauvel

See full concert schedule

 

News

Benjamin Bagby's recent activities as teacher/lecturer, linked to his performances

At the invitation of the music department, Benjamin taught a performance workshop on the music of Hildegard von Bingen for students at Princeton University (29 March), where he also performed 'Beowulf' in a collaborative production with digital light designer Craig Winslow. Following this, at the invitation of the medieval studies program and the English department, he gave a lecture on his work with reconstructing the 'Beowulf' performance, at Yale University (3 April).

At the Université Paris – Sorbonne, where Benjamin is on the faculty, the yearly 'Entretiens de la musique ancienne' were held this year in honor of his life-long work with reconstructing 'lost songs'. The main event was his performance of 'Beowulf' (11 May), with French video titles, in the Amphithéâtre Richelieu of the Sorbonne, followed by two days of symposium at the university's Centre Clignancourt, sponsored by the historical music organization IREMUS and the musicology department of the university. During this symposium, Benjamin gave a lecture on his work with reconstructed harps and the kinds of clues they can provide ('Beowulf ': dans l'atelier d'un conteur d'histoires).

 

2017 Barbara Thornton Memorial Scholarship awarded by Early Music America to string-player Allison Monroe

This scholarship is given by EMA to “an outstanding and highly-motivated (and possibly unconventional) young performer of medieval music who seeks to widen his/her experience through more advanced study and/or auditions in Europe.”  The recipient is chosen by a jury of musicians who knew or worked with the great medieval music specialist and teacher, Barbara Thornton (1950-1998), who co-founded Sequentia together with Benjamin Bagby in 1977. Read more about Allison here.

More news